Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country won't be deterred by the threat of new UN economic sanctions over its nuclear program.
Ahmadinejadspoke at a New York news conference Tuesday as the US and its allies were negotiating for UN Security Council approval of further sanctions to pressure Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
The Iranian president said new sanctions would mean that US President Barack Obama has given up on his campaign to engage Iran diplomatically.
"Sanctions cannot stop the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is able to withstand the pressure of the United States and its allies," Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
"While we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either," he said. "We feel that the US government will be damaged more than us by those sanctions."
If new sanctions are passed it "will mean relations between Iran and the US will never be improved again," Ahmadinejad said.
Despite Iran's defiance, major powers on the UN Security Council appeared undeterred.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov said Tuesday he was "reasonably optimistic" that an agreement can be reached on a fourth round of sanctions over Tehran's uranium enrichment program.
"I do believe the talks are slowly moving forward. There's definitely some space to bridge over. But I wouldn't over-exaggerate the differences," Ryabkov said.
AP and Reuters contributed to the report